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Medical examiner doubles down on original autopsy finding, labels Floyd’s death a homicide

Friday was a closely watched day in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd. It featured key testimony about what led to Floyd's death from medical examiner Dr. Andrew Baker, who performed the initial autopsy on Floyd's body and declared his death a homicide. Special correspondent Fred De Sam Lazaro has our report.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    This was a closely watched day in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd. It featured key testimony about what led to the death of Mr. Floyd.

    Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro has our report.

  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:

    A key and highly anticipated witness today was medical examiner Dr. Andrew Baker, who performed the initial autopsy on George Floyd's body.

    Baker determined Floyd died of cardiopulmonary arrest and declared his death a homicide, meaning simply a death caused by the actions of another person.

  • Dr. Andrew Baker:

    That's really just fancy medical lingo for the heart and the lungs stopped.

  • Jerry Blackwell:

    The heart…

  • Andrew Baker:

    No pulse, no breathing. And, in my opinion, the law enforcement subdual, restraint and the neck compression was just more than Mr. Floyd could take, by virtue of that — those heart conditions.

  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:

    Prior to the trial, there had been some confusion about Baker's autopsy findings.

    And, today, both the prosecution and defense tried to parse his report to make their case, arguing over the role controlled substances may have had in Floyd's death.

  • Andrew Baker:

    So, my opinion remains unchanged. It's what I put on the death certificate last June. That's cardiopulmonary arrest law complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint and neck compression.

    That was my top line then. It would stay my top line now.

  • Jerry Blackwell:

    And so, if we look at the other contributing conditions, those other contributing conditions are not conditions that you consider direct causes; is that true?

  • Andrew Baker:

    They are not direct causes of Mr. Floyd's death. That is true. They are contributing causes.

  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:

    The prosecution began the day's testimony by calling Dr. Lindsey Thomas to the stand. She is a forensic pathologist who helped train Baker.

  • Dr. Lindsey Thomas:

    There's no evidence to suggest he would've died that night, except for the interactions with law enforcement.

  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:

    Members of Floyd's family are expected to testify early next week as the prosecution wraps its case. The defense will begin calling its witnesses soon after.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," this is Fred de Sam Lazaro.

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